What On Earth

Seeking real climate action: Canadians share their hopes ahead of COP27

Canadians say it’s time for real, actionable decisions to be made about the future of the environment, ahead of the global conference on climate change. Many Canadians will be watching closely as global leaders and stakeholders gather in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt.

As officials gather in Egypt for the climate conference, Canadians would like to see actionable decisions

View of a COP27 sign on the road leading to the conference area in Egypt's Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh town as the city prepares to host the COP27 summit next month, in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt October 20, 2022. REUTERS/Sayed Sheasha (Sayed Sheasha/Reuters)
This week, What On Earth dedicates a full episode to the UN climate negotiations getting underway in Egypt. Communities on the frontlines of global warming are heading to COP27 in Sharm El Sheikh to speak out. As talks of 'loss and damage' focus on developing countries, we hear what Canada's responsibilities are internationally and at home. And, we hear what people in Canada hope for at this year's conference.

Canadians say it's time for real, actionable decisions to be made about the future of the environment, ahead of the global conference on climate change.

Many will be watching closely as global leaders and stakeholders gather in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, for the Conference of Parties (COP) climate conference from Nov. 6 to 18, also known as COP27.

The world's wealthiest countries are going into the summit having failed to meet the financial goal of putting $100 billion US toward annual climate financing. That commitment was made over a decade ago.

Canada and Germany both admitted through a progress report that wealthy countries, including their own — which produce a bulk of the world's carbon emissions — have fallen short, and that more work was needed to reach the target in 2023. 

But there is hope real change may come from the upcoming conference. What On Earth spoke to a number of Canadians about what they hope to see from COP27. Here's what they had to say. 

Eriel Deranger, executive director of Indigenous Climate Action, Edmonton

Eriel Deranger is a Denesuline climate and Indigenous rights advocate. (Kelsey Chapman)

My hope for COP27, and for colonial world leaders, is to not degrade the climate crisis to a mathematical equation that needs to be solved or an economic problem. This is a global, environmental, and human rights problem, and we need to be looking for real solutions that will address environmental and climate instability and also address human rights inequalities, together. 

We need to be advancing climate justice solutions, not false solutions wrapped up in carbon markets that allow big polluters to continue to buy their way out while they continue to pollute, or for corporations to continue to collect massive amounts of economic power while disempowering some of the poorest people and some of the people that are protecting critical biodiversity, which is Indigenous peoples. 

Indigenous peoples have been advancing some of the most progressive and aggressive solutions within the UN climate spaces for decades. It's time for colonial governments to listen to us and stop listening to greedy corporations and oil and gas companies. 

Stephen Buhler, organizer with Climate Justice Edmonton

Stephen Buhler is community engagement officer with Iron and Earth, a not-for-profit with a mission to empower fossil fuel industry and Indigenous workers to build and implement climate solutions. (Abdul Malik)

My hope for COP27, first off, is that we really listen to the voices of the people of Egypt, especially as they are standing up to the tyranny of their government, cracking down on protesters. 

But I think further to that, I just really want to see some real climate action come out of this. As a worker who has experience in oil and gas, I think it's really important to see jobs come out of this for workers, as well as reparations being made for the communities that have been most hit by climate change.

Bashar Rahman, student at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver

Bashar Rahman worries about his father who lives in a part of Bangladesh that may someday be underwater. (Submitted by Bashar Rahman)

My hope for COP27 is to look at policies surrounding climate finance with a particular focus on South Asia and Africa. 

I have been having conversations with my friends from back home [in Bangladesh], and one fact about Bangladesh is one third of Bangladesh is going to be underwater by 2050. And in that one third is my hometown where my dad still lives and works. 

So it's very frustrating to see policies that make some of these lands go underwater. So one thing that I am very optimistic [for], despite all of these circumstances, is if I see people acknowledging issues, particularly the Global South.

There are going to be a lot of climate refugees, however, the UNHCR still doesn't recognize climate refugees as refugees. It's very difficult to stay optimistic, but I think that's the last thing we can do as young people.

Emma-Jane Burian, student at the University of Victoria

Emma-Jane Burian is a former organizer with Fridays for Future in Victoria, a group that helped with a global school-strike movement to draw attention to the climate crisis. (Submitted by Emma-Jane Burian)

My hope for COP27 is that global leaders finally realize that the climate crisis and social justice are intrinsically connected, and we cannot solve the climate crisis with the same capitalist ideology that got us into the problem, and we must realize the social elements as well. 

And so we have to move beyond thinking about just renewable energy, but we also have to think about poverty and about racism and colonialism and all these other issues that are intrinsically connected to the climate crisis. 

Produced by Zoë Yunker. Answers have been edited for length and clarity


Philip Drost is a journalist with the CBC. You can reach him by email at philip.drost@cbc.ca.